As fall draws a little closer to winter and the temperature drops, you start thinking about it. Double-black diamond chutes. Backcountry bowls. Wicked moguls. You’re itching for the snow to fall, the slopes to open and to get out there. But when you’re planning your getaways these days, you’ve got others to think about, namely your kids. And let’s face it – few kids, if any, are ready to handle the types of runs you’re used to. But that doesn’t mean your winter getaway has to be a drag for you or misery for your little ones. A recent media tour focusing on family entertainment in the high country provided several offerings that are kid-friendly and fun for parents, too.
In Denver→Stay at: The Curtis Hotel. If you’re going to spend time in Denver, the Curtis is downtown and close to places like ESPN Zone, the 16th Street Mall (think Bricktown) Lower Downtown and several other attractions. The hotel has a pop culture theme and travel games you can buy. It’s quirky, fun and anything but boring. →Check out: The Downtown Aquarium. Lots of fish (including sharks) and an opportunity to snorkel in a huge tank filled with several species of aquatic life, including a 250-pound grouper. The staff emphasizes fun and education to keep it interesting. "The way to people’s heads is through their hearts,” dive safety officer Todd Hall said. →Also see: REI’s superstore. Everything skiers, boarders, hikers and climbers possibly could want. For those looking for fun, the converted brick warehouse-turned-empor- ium has a massive rock climbing tower.
Close by→Ski/snowboard at: Winter Park. Owned by the city of Denver, Winter Park has 3,000 acres with runs for all skill levels. Mary Jane, which is part of Winter Park, is a place reserved for expert skiers. Being so close to Denver, Winter Park’s renowned ski school has trained countless Colorado skiers. The resort also features the nearly new Fraser Crossing condominiums, which are right by the lifts. They’re new, big and comfortable. →Check out: Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Close to Winter Park but feels off the beaten path. Sleigh rides and cross-country ski trails await on 5,000 scenic acres. Don’t have the gear? No problem. The ranch has its own pro shop. You also can rent a room and enjoy some choice dining there. →Also see: Snow tubing at YMCA of the Rockies, Winter Park Village. Also close to the slopes, snow tubing might be just the thrill kids need if skiing has proven to be too daunting.
Worth the drive→Ski/snowboard at: Breckenridge. Set in the shadow of Quandary Peak, this former mining town is synonymous with great skiing and boarding. Breckenridge has 2,000 acres for all skill levels, a massive terrain park (think half-pipes and jumps) and the highest chair lift in North America (12,840 feet). A top-notch ski school will get your young ones up to speed. The town itself is filled with good lodging with plenty of deals available. Hint: If you can go in February or April, you’ll save big-time. →Check out: Dog sledding. Not far from Breckenridge is Good Times Adventures, which offers snowmobiling and dog sledding. Handlers teach you the basic commands and how to work the dog sled. Unlike most places, they also give you a chance to drive a dog sled team (not just ride) through a backcountry course. →Dine at: Downstairs at Eric’s in Breckenridge. Good, high-calorie food after a long day on the slopes, featuring specialty pizzas. A laid-back, fun atmosphere with a motif that’s half sports, half ski freak. Eric’s also has a sizable arcade, just the distraction for kids who may get fidgety waiting on dinner. Travel and accommodations provided by Colorado Tourism Office, Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Winter Park Ski Resort and Breckenridge Resort Chamber.